What is StandWatch.org?
StandWatch.org is a 501c3 non-profit corporation, established in September 2015, that helps veterans, young people, and community leaders develop projects that make communities better. StandWatch Academy was born out of that initiative. As the academy has matured, we have dedicated more time and resources towards helping teach young people how to become good citizens and social entrepreneurs. We have transitioned from a veterans service organization to an organization where veterans provide service, mostly in the form of leadership or entrepreneurial education.
Where Did The Idea for StandWatch Academy Come From?
About a year after we launched, we realized though that we were actually underserving the veteran “market”. As it turns out, through anecdote and experience, we learned that about 20% of veterans want or need some sort of assistance. Now that doesn’t mean that 20% need healthcare, it simply means that a small percentage need assistance with VA loans, others need help navigating the bureaucracy, still others may want help with homelessness. But that leaves 80% of veterans who have no issue at all, and if they share any common trait, they get involved in their communities.
So we started experimenting, beta-testing if you will, with small events where we teamed veterans and current members of the military with high school and college students to see what would happen. It was my hope that the kids would learn leadership skills, and the veterans would have a vehicle for getting even more involved in the community through service projects the group found together.
So we developed student/veteran endurance hikes – 12 to 16 miles each, through some really incredible terrain. Three of these hikes were in the mountains of North Carolina, and three were in West Virginia. Again, they were experiments, and we learned a lot from them. It was through these that the idea for StandWatch Academy developed.
StandWatch Academy’s mission is to take a group of high school students and teach them how to conceptualize, launch, and run their own social enterprises, nonprofits, Christian missions, and public policy campaigns. Some of the instruction will take place outdoors; some of it in places like the State Capitol building. No matter where we are, we’re going to emphasize not only basic business skills – entrepreneurship, marketing, business planning, and leadership – but to also give them a foundation in civics, history, and public policy.
Now why are we including anything related to history. It’s simple. Too many people, in too many fields set off on new endeavors without realizing how their plans fit with historical precedent. Why is that? Well, for generations now, kids have been taught that if they want to get ahead in life, they need to shun liberal arts degrees and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. This has produced a situation where we now have millions of people around the country, young and old, who cannot carry on an intelligent conversation about history, economics, politics, civics, or religion. Historical ignorance has become a punchline – a gimmick – for late night comedians and opportunists in Washington who want to exploit that ignorance for their own purposes. That’s why we now live in an era where we tear down monuments and the people who shout the loudest define who we are as a nation. That has to stop.
Shakespeare wasn’t a scientist, Mozart wasn’t an engineer, and Thomas Jefferson knew absolutely nothing about Facebook and Twitter, but I think few would argue that these men, and other luminaries who made our country great, wasted their lives pursuing irrelevant careers. We have lost touch with the academic disciplines that define us outside a mathematical algorithm.
In order to succeed in business, public policy, and really, almost any endeavor, you have to know who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going.
So StandWatch Academy is going to use veterans to teach leadership, discipline, and history; small business leaders to teach entrepreneurship; and elected officials to help them learn about public policy. We think it’s the recipe for righting the ship and instilling a true sense of hope and opportunity that will inspire local social entrepreneurs and make our state an even better place to live.
StandWatch.org will never accept one dime of government money. Frankly, given the amount of effort and time it takes to work through governmental processes and regulations, it’s a lot easier to rely on commercial sector donations.
Is StandWatch.org a 501(c)3 Organization?
We received our 501(c)3 certification letter on January 15, 2016, with an effective date of September 26, 2015. See here.